No, I’m not talking about hitting the road in an RV. I’mtalking about the out-of-town trial, and a few things you might not otherwisethink about until you need them – which would then be too late. I’ll offer afew thoughts here, and feel free to add yours at the end of the article.
Internet Connection– Honestly, I can’t imagine being without a decent connection these days, whenonly a few years ago, it was a pure luxury. In most courthouses in majorcities, you can get a decent cell-phone signal. If you can do that, and if youhave a smart phone that doubles as a Wi-Fi Hotspot, you’re set for providingaccess to several laptops, iPads, or other devices. There are also servicessuch as Courtroom Connect in many courtrooms, in addition to a free publicservice in some (usually intended for jurors). All due cautions apply to each.
Printing, Scanning,Copying – These common, simple daily functions must not be overlooked, andideally, you will be able to do a decent job of each in both the war room andthe court room. While the war room should have equipment available to handlethe expected volume, you should also be able to scan or print something in thecourtroom, if necessary. There are a number of portable scanners and printerson the market, and mine fit into my carry-on bag which I take to court with meeach day. I’d rather not print 10 copies of 12 different exhibits in a bighurry, but I can handle the occasional (or frequent) emergency.
With that, you might also consider using 3-hole pre-drilledpaper if you’re putting everything into binders, so you don’t have to worryabout punching the pages. One more tip is to bring along a high-capacitystapler, since many exhibits are too thick for a standard staple (over about 20pages). You should also check out local resources for vendors.
Redundancy – You shouldalways have a current backup of your trial database available. When you’re athome, this may be simple, but when you’re on the road, although dealing with the“blue screen of death” is no longer a routine issue, problems still occur. Irecommend have a second laptop of the same make, model and configuration, inaddition to a full copy on an external hard drive, which may be used totransfer from one to the other (leaving a third copy on the drive itself). I’mnot a big fan of data sync software either, and I have seen it fail. There’snothing quite like the feeling you get when you realize something has gonewrong. At least if you’re handling it manually, you will know what you did, andlikely have a quick recovery available. Also, over-writing database files doesn’talways go as expected, so I will first delete the old set, and then copy over theupdated set. Thumb drives and cloud services such as Dropboxcan also be helpful.
Other Devices –iPads, Tablets and other devices can also help to make your life a bit morecomfortable. If you have one, you know what I mean. If you don’t, you probablywon’t understand until you get one. Although there are even apps for trialpresentation which I’ve reviewed here, such as TrialPad,ExhibitA, Evidence,and now ExhibitView (currently onsale for $29.99, which I’ll be reviewing soon), most of the cases I handle arefar too complex for the capabilities of the iPad. On smaller matters, however,using the iPad in trial could be fun. I have successfully used mine in severalCLE presentations.
Use Caution With RoomServices – If you’re looking for an easy way of upsetting an otherwisehappy client, go ahead and turn in your expense report with a long list of topmovies, fine dining, cocktails, and sending out all of your suits you’ve beenmeaning to get dry-cleaned. Just because you’re living in a hotel doesn’t meanyou’re on vacation. Although your extravagant indulgences may be strategically distributedthroughout the duration of your stay, think of how it’s going to look on paper –one right after another.
Okay, off to court. Have a great day!